Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco Sheriff's Office fitness program shows off big weight losers

LAND O'LAKES — It was a photo of himself on Facebook that spurred Deputy Mark Speaker to change.

He was 313 pounds. The buttons on his double-XL shirts strained around his midsection. Describing what he looked like in that picture from Thanksgiving 2011, he held his arms wide around his abdomen.

"It was everything I didn't think I was," he said. "You'll tell yourself, 'Oh, I'm not that bad,' and you are."

Speaker wanted to be in a gym exercising, but at his weight, he was told, he could wrench his joints and strain his tendons. To do even basic routines, he would first have to escape his mass.

He started with a diet. Water instead of soda. Protein in lieu of carbohydrates. He lost 50 pounds before he could go to the gym.

Now he works his different muscle groups at Gold's Gym. In a little over a year, Speaker has shed about 100 pounds. He's down to 207 now. He says it's a start.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said he's looking for that kind of change from more of his deputies. On Jan. 1, the Sheriff's Office began its Health Fitness Initiative. Two weeks in, 300 employees have signed up.

Aside from confronting dangers on the job, law enforcement officers face a higher risk for heart disease and other health problems than people in other professions. Officers tend to be more overweight and take in higher cholesterol, which can strain their bodies, according to a 2009 study reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

"We're a public safety agency," Nocco said. "People expect that we're going to be able to chase somebody down."

Agency members who participate in the voluntary fitness initiative must log 30-minute gym visits three times a week to receive 10 points a week.

At the end of each quarter, members with more than 100 points will get $25 gift cards to places like Target and Outback Steak House.

The Sheriff's Office made deputies available to reporters on Tuesday morning while the deputies worked out in the employee gym at the Land O'Lakes jail. Most had success stories that the sheriff hoped would inspire other agency members.

After his wedding last March, Deputy Chris Wieck, 34, said he was "embarrassed" by photos of himself at 320 pounds. He lost more than 90 pounds working out in the gym and drinking water instead of soda. Now, he said, he can respond quicker to incident calls in the jail corridors and catch his breath when he arrives. And at home, he can play football with his children.

Alex Orlando can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco Sheriff's Office fitness program shows off big weight losers 01/15/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 26-July 2.


    Vans Warped Tour: The festival returns Saturday to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, featuring shock-metal icons Gwar, hardcore punks Sick Of It All, ska band Save Ferris and indie-pop group Never Shout Never ($39.50-$49.50). vanswarpedtour. …

    Crowd for the Motionless in White band at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour at Vinoy Park, Friday, July 25, 2014.  CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times
  2. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Drowning in a sea of lawsuits and recall costs, Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. is expected to seek bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the United States today.

  3. AP: Rick Scott to name Jimmy Patronis CFO on Monday


    From the AP's Gary Fineout:

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is turning to a long-time political ally and former north Florida legislator to take over one of the top elected jobs in state government. 

    Then state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City Beach, left, and Gov. Rick Scott, tour downtown Panama City, Fla. on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Scott will name Patronis CFO on Monday.
  4. Despite Pride success, Grand Central business owners upset over losing parade


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Grand Central District was packed with people Sunday, there to enjoy the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    Patrons eat lunch and cool off inside of the Community Cafe during the St. Pete Pride Street Festival along Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times

  5. Rays blow another lead, lose rubber match to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles rallied past the Rays on Sunday, winning the rubber match of the three-game series 8-5.

    Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop (6) scores in the eighth in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.